Are you looking for a gaming laptop that packs a punch, looks incredible, and is well-built but doesn’t know enough to pick one yourself? Are you confused with all this technical jargon? Do you have no idea what an i3 or i5 is? Or what even constitutes a good processor?
Don’t worry at all, because we have you covered and in this gaming laptop buying guide, we’ll talk about the essential components of a laptop and what to look for when buying one, as well as some vital information to keep in mind. We’ll also answer all the myriad of questions you could have and the decisions you should make based on your personal preference.
This is a complete and comprehensive guide that will explain everything from the ground up to ensure that you get the bang for your buck!
Table Of Contents
The Rising Need For The Gaming Laptop
Many people have jobs requiring them to move from place to place, restricting them from purchasing a PC due to portability issues. College goers need to shift from place to place but still want to continue their gaming passions, and a PC isn’t right for them. Gaming laptops have been consistently growing and becoming formidable machines in their own right, especially after new mobile GPUs such as the 3050 are launched.
They will make portable gaming that much affordable and that much more fun. The demand for gaming laptops is increasing daily; people want to have a high-end experience and enjoy AAA titles more and more.
Price is undeniably one of the most significant determinants when buying any electronic device, and a laptop is no exception. Especially in India, where all the credible laptops come from overseas and carry a very heavy price tag courtesy of the tax imposed. I have categorized the types of notebooks below based on their price.
The budget gaming laptop – These are for people who are budget constrained but still want at least an entry-level gaming machine. It will just about be able to run most AAA titles on 1080 pixel resolution at 60 FPS (except cyberpunk, RDR2, etc.) and run old classics flawlessly. The price range for this segment will be Rs.50,000 to Rs.60,000 and under if you manage to get one during Diwali time.
Here is the Best Gaming Laptop Under 60000 post we’ve written in this price range.
The mid-ranger- For the gamers who want a decent gaming experience without spending too much money, the mid-range would be ideal. However, it isn’t easy to quantify the mid-range in the current climate, but an educated guess would be Rs.70,000-1,00,000; This is considered the budget segment for Ray tracing.
The complete laptop- It runs everything at the highest settings but is considerably pricey too. It is ideal for those who want to experience gaming in the best way, along with being portable. There is no specific price range, but it may go from Rs 2,00,000 to Rs 3,00,000.
Before I recommend the base parts, you should have for each of the above three types of laptops. An explanation is in order from top to bottom, which will clear any doubt you had and inform you about all the components in a gaming laptop.
The processor is the brain of the computer and the base of all calculations. The central processing unit determines how much data the computer can handle and how quickly the information travels. The CPU consists of an arithmetic logic unit (ALU) in charge of arithmetic and logical operations and a control unit that executes instructions.
The CPU runs processing cycles to complete the instructions given. The measurement of these cycles is called the clock speed of a CPU and is in the billions. A CPU with a clock speed of 3 Gigahertz can compute 3 billion cycles in a second. For some tasks, a faster clock speed may be more beneficial than the number of cores.
Modern CPUs nowadays have more than one Core and are available in iterations of 2 (Dual), 4 (Quad), 6 (Hexa), 8 (Octa).
Another crucial component of the CPU is the thread count. Threads make it possible for the CPU to run multiple processes simultaneously, so to run various processes simultaneously, you will need a CPU with a large thread count. Dual CPUs and above are capable of multithreading due to having more than one processor.
SUMMING UP – High clock speed, more cores, and more threads lead to a faster CPU.
The Dilemma Of i3, i5, i7, And i9 Have Been Explained Below.
Let us consider Intel and its numerous processors. You must have heard of I3, I5, I7, I9, etc., but may have never known what they meant to convey. Core i3 processors have dual cores, which enable hyperthreading. They also generally consume less power, have less cache, and have the lowest performance compared to the same generation of the rest of the cores. They are generally the cheapest.
Core i5 processors are usually quad-core, but some older versions were dual, and some newer generations have six cores. They have improved integrated graphics and the option of turbo boost.
Core i7 processors have anywhere from 4-8 cores, with some old models even having dual-core. They possess better onboard graphics, a faster turbo boost, and more cache.
The newer i9 mobile processors pack a lot of punch. For example, the 10th generation i9-10980HK has eight cores and 16 threads, with a base frequency of 2.40Ghz going up to 5.30Ghz when turbocharged. Here, i9 is the Core, 10980 signifies the generation number, and HK is the suffix that means high performance and optimized for mobile (laptops). An ‘H’ suffix generally denotes a laptop (mobile) processor.
What Does Graphics Processing Unit (Gpu) Mean?
The GPU is undeniably one of the most vital parts of a gaming laptop. It is responsible for rendering what you see on the screen. It is often used interchangeably with the term ‘graphics card,’ even though there is a subtle difference, with GPU meaning just the chip.
When the CPU is responsible for graphical rendering instead of a dedicated GPU, it is known as integrated graphics. An increase in the value of cryptocurrencies has led to an increased demand for GPUs as they mine the former.
GPUs also have their RAM called VRAM (will be explained later). Technically, many parts determine the performance of a GPU, such as core clock, CUDA cores, bandwidth, ROP, VRAM, etc., but paying attention to those when shopping for a good GPU isn’t that helpful.
SUMMING UP – It is much more straightforward to check the GPU benchmarks and note the frames per second obtained to know the quality of the GPU.
How Are Cpu & Gpu Connected With Each Other?
The GPU and the CPU have a crucial relationship with each other, especially when used for gaming. A CPU with a high clock speed, multiple cores and threads, and integrated graphics perfectly complements the GPU, leading to a further increase in the FPS obtained in video games. On the contrary, if either the GPU or the CPU is below par in comparison, this leads to bottlenecks. Meticulously check both of them before buying a laptop so that no bottleneck occurs.
The Function of A Random Access Memory (RAM)
It is the primary storage of the computer. RAM is a type of memory that can be read and randomly accessed. RAM allows data to be read and written in the same amount of time, notwithstanding the location of the data In the memory.
Low RAM will significantly affect the game performance, as the game does not have enough space to load data sets, leading to FPS drops. VRAM is another type of RAM called Video Random Access Memory. While RAM’s primary use is just running programs, VRAM acts as a buffer between the video card and CPU. Its core motive is to store models, textures, and other game data that is needed. It may reduce the load on RAM and smoothens the execution of graphical displays. VRAM is a part of the graphics card and not added like normal RAM.
Speed of the RAM
Modern RAM nowadays all runs on GDDR4, and VRAM’s run on GDDR6, with the best frequency being 3200 and 3600 Mhz and above that being overkill.
Storage Of A PC Plays A Vital Role
There are two different types of secondary storage to use, mainly the classic Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and the better Solid State Drive (SSD).
HDDs are generally much slower than SDD’s but usually offer much more storage space and a lesser cost than SDD’s. SDD’s offer 10x more read speeds and 20x greater write speeds than HDD’s, if not more. It is generally good practice to have a large 1TB HDD and a small 256/512 GB SSD to get a fast experience while gaming and not be worried about loading times while still having enough storage to store everything else needed.
A Good Display Refers To A Good Experience
The two main kinds of displays in a laptop would be TN and the IPS. Both have their pros and cons, but which is best for gaming?
The resolution is apparent in laptops, mainly because the screen is too small to fully appreciate any 2k or 4k display, so the classic 1080p is the best option (full HD).
A twisted nematic (TN) display offers a cheap solution with a low response time and low input lag, both great for gaming. They also support a higher refresh rate (120,144), ideal for first-person shooters and other similar competitive games. But, TN panels suffer from bad color reproduction and have terrible viewing angles.
IPS (In-plane switching) gives a much superior picture than TN panels, with better color reproduction and viewing angles. The imagery is lush, and color accuracy is much better. But, they may still have a higher response time than TN panels and are costlier.
But, these days, almost all gaming laptops boast a high refresh rate IPS panel, to so that choice may be redundant here.
Frames Per Second & Refresh Rate
Frames per second are the number of frames your GPU and CPU together can produce within a second, and higher frames are generally better, and FPS is not affected by your display’s refresh rate. Even though refresh rate doesn’t affect FPS, there is still a relationship between them.
Suppose you have a display of only 60hz, and your laptop can deliver up to 120 FPS consistently on a game. In that case, this will be a better experience than getting 60 fps while playing on a screen of the exact Hertz, as there are several advantages to having frame rates higher than the refresh rate. It means reduced input lag, reduced tearing, and a reduction in the number of stutters.
But, even though you have these benefits, at the end of the day, you are only getting to play at 60fps, which still is enough for single-player games, but not for competitive ones. You are underutilizing your GPU and CPU by not complementing it with a high refresh rate screen (120/144/240). The higher the Hertz, the faster it will refresh everything present on the screen, and the faster you will be able to render game graphics, giving you an advantage.
Therefore, having a refresh rate of only 60 is not advisable, especially if you will be playing competitive shooters.
Some Other Factors To Consider
As laptops are small and compact and have a lot of powerful machineries such as a powerful CPU and GPU, they often overheat and may lead to thermal throttling. When under intense usage, the CPU gets hotter and hotter, and when it reaches a specific temperature, it automatically lowers its clock speed to cool down. This causes a dip in performance and is known as thermal throttling. Make sure to buy a laptop with a good cooling system in order to avoid thermal throttling. Also, an external cooling pad may or may not help your laptop to reduce the temperature. In my experience with thermal throttling laptops, it usually isn’t that much of a dip in performance. Another option is underclocking the CPU, which may fix the problem.
An operating system is a significant determinant of how a gaming laptop functions, and there is only one clear choice here: Windows 10. Other operating systems like Mac are still not suitable for gaming at all. Windows 10 has the widest selection of games, and they perform the best on the former.
Size Of Screen And Weight
There are three central choices in terms of the size of the screen, mainly 17 inches, 15 inches, and 13 inches. The best is 15.6 inches as it is at the sweet spot where it is big enough to provide an immersive experience while also being not too clunky that it hinders the laptop’s portability.
The size directly correlates to weight, and anything over a 17-inch screen will likely be over 3kgs and would be pretty heavy to carry around comfortably. A 15.6-inch screen would make the laptop around 2 kg. The rest is purely preference, and if you want a small and sleek laptop, you could go lower, and if you’re comfortable with a big one, you could go higher.
You will notice many gaming laptops claiming a battery backup of 6-9 hours, but in fact, that is only under very low processor usage, which will seldom happen, as it is a gaming laptop. When these laptops are running AAA titles on the highest of settings, you can’t expect great battery life, and most probably, running a AAA game on your battery would provide you with an hour or two of gaming and not more. Also, running a AAA title on just the battery isn’t very wise since most gaming laptops achieve their true potential only when plugged into the charger.
A sturdy build is essential for a laptop; it ensures that if by chance your laptop goes through any mishap, it doesn’t damage the valuable components inside.
Every gamer loves RGB lighting; they make your gaming sessions that much more enjoyable. Most gaming laptops have at least some form of lighting emanating from them and make for a lively display.
Warranty and Service
As in all online and electronic purchases, the warranty and service of a product are important and should be studied carefully before being purchased. Please research what warranty you are buying as there are many warranty scams out there.
Make sure your laptop has all the sufficient ports you could possibly need, including ethernet, audio jack, display port, SD card reader, USB type A, USB type B, USB type C, etc.
As a no-brainer, you’ll definitely need some good accessories like a mouse and headphones in order to get the best out of your gaming laptop. You may also need a keyboard if you are not comfortable with the in-built laptop keyboard.
Some Best Gaming Laptops As Recommendation
1. Acer Aspire 7 Intel Core I5 Gaming Laptop
- For the budget gaming laptop, these are the minimum specifications one must keep in mind.
GPU – at least NVIDIA 1650 ti with 4GB DDR6
CPU – i5 11th gen ( i5 10th is nice too)
RAM – At least 8 GB DDR4
OS – Only windows 10
Storage – either 512GB SSD or 1TB HDD + 256GB SSD
Display – Aim for 120hz (60hz is fine for this budget, though)
2. Acer Nitro 5 Ryzen 5 5600H Gaming Laptop
- For the Mid-range gaming laptop, these are the minimum specifications one must keep in mind.
GPU – 3060,3050,2060,1660 in order of preference( DO NOT BUY A 1650 AT THIS PRICE RANGE)
CPU – Ryzen 7 4800H / Ryzen 5 5600h ( i7 11th gen is ok)
RAM – at least 16 GB RAM
OS – Mac (no, I’m kidding, only windows 10)
Storage – 1 TB SSD or 1TB HDD + 512GB SSD
Display – Aim for 144hz (120 is fine, though)
3. ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 Ryzen 9 Gaming Laptop
- For the complete gaming laptop, these are the minimum specifications one must keep in mind.
GPU – 3080,3090
CPU – Ryzen 9 5900x (better than i9, 11th gen)
RAM – 32GB (32 maybe overkill, though)
OS – Linux, no really Linux ( not Linux, only windows )
Storage – 2TB SSD
Display – 240/300
Final Words For The Gaming Laptop
We all root to get the best experience when it comes to gaming. Who doesn’t want a PC that never lags and has amazing graphics? Laptops nowadays in the market are competitive and difficult to choose from. We have come up with a gaming laptop buying guide in India to provide you with the best basic knowledge in detail to make your decision easier.